Budget Travel: How to Travel For Less

 

If you want to get more bang for you buck, you’re going to have to do things a little differently to what you are used to. Here are some of my tried and true suggestions to save your cash while travelling:

 

Travel outside of the peak seasons

In most of Europe and North America the summer months are ‘peak season’ and is a popular time to travel for obvious reasons. It’s also when all the locals take their summer holidays. Higher demand means higher prices and in particular accommodation can be up to three times more expensive in peak season.

You will learn to love low season travel and not just for the prices. There are less crowds, less time spent queuing, the locals will be more relaxed and welcoming, and without the chaos that comes with crowds you will generally get a better appreciation for a place.

 

Avoid travelling during festivals

Prices tend to increase dramatically around festival time, especially is the larger cities. Accommodation will be expensive and hard to come by unless you’ve booked well in advance.

 

traveler sleeping on a couch

Photo by Venturist

 

Eat cheap

Visit the fresh produce markets, patisseries and street vendors. You don’t have to eat in posh restaurants to sample some of the local cuisine. Food markets and street stalls are a great way of tasting some of the local food on the cheap. Make sure you still treat yourself to a couple of meals out in each place though.

 

Couch Surfing

Okay, I haven’t actually tried this and I admit I was a little dubious at first, but apparently this is the new hip way to travel. And much safer than it sounds. Sign up to the couch surfing database of people offering their couch to fellow travellers and kiss paying for accommodation goodbye. Try to be a good house guest though and do the dishes or something.

 
girl on a bicycle

Photo by Karrah Kobus

 

Walk everywhere!

Or at least as much as you can. Or hire a bike. Cycling is a great way to see the countryside or even cycle-friendly cities like London or Amsterdam. When you do need to use public transport, go for buses as they are usually cheaper than trains.

 

Slow travel

Getting from one place to another is expensive so the more time you spend in one place the less you will have to move around.  Travelling to less places but staying for longer is a much cheaper way to go. And in my opinion a much nicer way to travel.

 

Stay in hostels

Hostels are not just for ‘youth’, anyone of any age can stay in them. They are usually dormitory style accommodation with communal bathrooms, kitchen, recreation area. The majority I’ve stayed in are clean, safe, friendly and well maintained. Hostels are great way of making new friends especially if you are travelling alone. Short term apartment rental is also a good option

 

Cook for yourself

Most hostels will have adequate kitchen facilities so head to the supermarket and make your own dinner or lunches a few times a week. 

 

Camp
 
I personally prefer to camp only when there is absolutely no other option, but it’s definitely a huge money saver if you like camping, have the gear and are travelling in the right climate.

 

red campervan

Photo by Amy H

 

Spend less time in the big cities

…and get off the beaten track. Cities are expensive, there’s no getting around that. Try to share the love around a bit and get out of the big cities and off the tourist trail. You always find a gem of a place or two by doing that.

 

Work your way around

If you are planning to be gone for a while, find out whether you can apply for a work visa before you go. Australia, Canada, UK, and Japan offer working holiday visas and European Union members are allowed to work in any of the EU countries without a work permit.

 

Fly with no-frills airlines

I know they can be unreliable at times but seriously, they will save you a small fortune. And if you usually fly economy, you will know that there is no legroom regardless of which airline you choose so you may as well go budget. Allow for delays and cancellations and try not to book too many back-to-back flights in case either of those two things happen. Oh, and take some snacks.

 

Plan ahead

If you are on a really tight budget your trip will take a lot more planning. Research cheap flights, destination info, festival times, free or cheap days at museums/galleries and accommodation options well before you head off so you’re not hit with unexpected costs.

 

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Comments (4)
  • Avatar

    jessica davis Dec 11 2010 - 5:35 am Reply

    This article is awesome :) A lot of these things i probably knew already but it's given me the confidence and inspiration to do them. I actually love camping and plan to camp all the way through the US on a road trip!

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    Madison May 26 2011 - 8:42 am Reply

    Great article. I've travelled for many years but I'm now a little wiser than before. Thank you.

  • Avatar

    Michael Fuller Nov 4 2011 - 5:44 pm Reply

    You left out my single biggest tip on saving money when traveling: Avoid developed countries! Go to Central America, SE Asia, East Africa, South America, India! The people are friendlier, everything is cheaper, and the impact on your own life is much greater as you see people with stronger sense of community and tradition, who may lack all the material stuff we clog our lives with, but paradoxically are better connected with themselves and their environment than we are.

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